My husband got me an awesome gift for my 40th birthday. It’s a GPS for my car.

I spend a lot of time in my car driving to unknown destinations. For the last six years, I’ve been a home party lady. I have been in more homes in more subdivisions in more suburbs than you can possibly imagine.

So, my sweet husband thought the GPS would be a great way to help me get around. And while I’m generally really good at finding my way, it would help avoid those occasional phone calls of, “Honey, I think I made a wrong turn. Can you go on MapQuest and figure out where I am?”

I love the GPS. It’s really fun to have around. But I have to admit that, lately, Richard, the voice of my GPS, and I haven’t exactly been seeing eye-to-eye.

My trips always start out the same. I type in the address of my destination. Then, I tell myself: “No matter what Richard suggests, I’m going to do it. I want to see which way he tells me to go.”

Then I pull out of my driveway, and the conflict begins.

“Turn left, and then take the second right.”

Umm, Richard. You should know by now that I like to turn right to get out of my subdivision. I know you want me to stay on the major streets, but it IS a little faster, I sigh.

I relent and go his way.

I start cruising through town on my way to the tollway. And I wait.

Richard, I really need to turn left up here. Don’t you remember the shortcut?! Richard, if I keep going straight, I’m going to hit five stoplights. There are no stoplights this way. It’s much faster.

My heart starts pounding as I get into the left turn lane. What is he going to say now? I’m making an unauthorized turn! Can’t his memory chip learn that I want to turn here?! He’s quiet. And then, he comes back to life.

“After 500 yards, turn right.”

Whew! He readjusted.

I keep going my way, and Richard is silent for several miles. He lets me go through stop signs and past major roads and he doesn’t say a word.

I know what he’s thinking:

“I told you to go straight back there, and you didn’t listen.”
“Why do you even turn me on if you aren’t going to do what I tell you?”
“Why don’t you just go back to using Susan?”

I’ll admit it. When I got the GPS, it came with the pre-set voice of Susan. Something about her bossing me around was even worse than Richard. I know this makes a serious statement about my gender relations, but I’m not sure what it is. I switched to Richard because he has a calm, but firm, voice. I felt like I could trust him.

Finally, he wakes up and gives me another order.

“After 500 feet, turn left.”

I get in the left turn lane and look down. Richard’s battery is dead. Great. Right when I really needed him! I start searching for the car adapter and get him plugged in just in time for the next direction.

I follow his commands the rest of the way, with only a few minor adjustments. But I start thinking about why he makes me so irritable.

Maybe if he would just couch his statements a little. You know. He could say, “You might want to turn in about 500 feet.” Or, “I know you have several choices right now, but I would suggest a right turn.”

Maybe if he would give me the big picture and explain why he thinks this way is best. “I have researched all of the options, including your short cut through the forest preserve and this way will save you 2.5 minutes,” he could say in his monotone voice.

Maybe then, I would be more inclined to listen.

Or maybe, just maybe, I’m just too strong-willed to own a GPS.

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